UEFA carrot-and-stick policy for Bilbao


Bilbao will host Europe League Final 2024 Image: IDOM

In a carrot-and-stick policy adopted by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), the administrative body for football has decided to compensate Bilbao (Spain) as the latter was stripped of its rights by the former to host games at this year’s European Championship which is presently underway. This announcement was made by the Spanish City’s Municipal Government recently.

‘in-24.com’ stated that Bilbao’s City hall said UEFA had agreed to compensate it with 1.3 million euros ($1.6 million) and the commitment that the City’s 53,289-capacity San Mamés Stadium will stage a Europa League Final and a Women’s Champions League final “in the coming years.”

The City Hall said the money would cover the investments it had made in preparing for Euro 2020.

The 2020 UEFA European Football Championship, commonly referred to as UEFA Euro 2020 or simply Euro 2020, is the 16th UEFA European Championship, the quadrennial international men’s football championship of Europe organized by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). It is presently underway and got off to a start on June 11th, 2021 and will conclude on July 11th, 2021. The UEFA Euro 2020 was postponed in March 2020 due to the global outbreak of coronavirus.

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) is the administrative body for football, futsal and beach soccer in Europe. It is one of the six continental confederations of world football’s governing body FIFA. UEFA consists of 55 national association members.

‘in-24.com’ further stated that Bilbao was supposed to host Group E matches for Spain’s national football team, but the high contagion rate of the coronavirus cases in the northern part of the country made it impossible for fans to be allowed into the matches.

However, a no-nonsense UEFA boss Aleksander Čeferin booted out Bilbao along with Dublin (Ireland) in April this year and the four matches initially scheduled to take place in Bilbao (Spain) was moved to the 60,000-capacity Estadio La Cartuja in Seville, Spain.

Looking at the COVID seesaw all over the globe, the local authorities in Bilbao had decided in April this year that fans in Bilbao will not be able to grace Euro 2020 matchups. Therefore, with the assistance of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), the UEFA decided to move those matches to another venue in Spain itself, with the simple logic of allowing fans to attend the games after a year of not being able to watch live football in stadia and rather watching the same on television. UEFA had apprised the Bilbao authorities that they have been dropped over a failure to guarantee capacities of at least 25 percent in the 53,289-capacity all-seater football stadium San Mamés in Bilbao.

However, the Bilbao authorities were hopping mad over this decision of UEFA and had stated that they will not allow Bilbao or the Basque institutions to be taken for a ride and went ahead and sought compensation from UEFA for the same citing they had made huge physical and financial investment to ready the venue for the UEFA spectacle. The above development is a result of this step taken by the Bilbao authorities who won the case.

Earlier, the local authorities of Bilbao and the Basque Country, who were breathing fire over this “unilateral” decision of UEFA, demanded compensation for “tarnishing their reputation and cancellation of an international and prestigious soccer event”.

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